PBA warns of phone solicitation scams


SOUTH BRUNSWICK — According to the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), many people have been complaining about receiving calls from people who are pretending to be police officers asking for money.

“We are the largest law enforcement union in the state and we do not solicit by phone,” said Anthony Wieners, president of the state PBA. “The New Jersey State Police and the Troopers Union also do not solicit by phone; it creates too much potential for fraud.”

Many of the phone calls have been to elderly people in nursing homes, and the criminal callers usually put pressure on the people to give money. Two weeks ago, a police officer’s father was put into a nursing home in Hunterdon County and a week later received a letter from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) asking for money. There was also a case of an East Orange man who was soliciting as a police officer in Maryland.

“We have a lot of questions as to how someone gets access to information on who is newly admitted to a nursing home,” said PBA spokesman Jim Ryan, who is also a South Brunswick police detective.

In Union Township in Union County, a town hall meeting was held by elderly residents. Alma Roberts, director of the Golden Age Club in Union, said she supported the police, but did not want to be bothered by telemarketers. Dan Ryan, president of the Connecticut Farms Civic Association, became suspicious when a telemarketer said he was from Union County, but had a Middlesex County phone number.

According to the PBA, “There are too many fraudulent phone solicitors to make it a reliable way to raise money. The New Jersey State PBA and the State Troopers union both embrace a direct mail approach so the sender knows where the money is going.”

Jim Ryan also wondered if people knew where their money was going. Out of every dollar given to FOP, less than 14 cents goes to police or charitable causes, with the rest going to fundraising costs.

“Every organization can raise money and spend it as they see fit, but as for the money reaching New Jersey law enforcement – it doesn’t,” Ryan said.